At the start Lotterer led the 33 car field but was soon coming under pressure from Mark Webber in the no1 Porsche 919 Hybrid. It took the Australian six laps to find away around the second placed Oliver Jarvis in the no8 Audi and then he set about catching and passing the lead car with a daring move at Abbey after 28 minutes.
Webber then built up a big lead before handing over to Brendon Hartley. The Kiwi world champion then continued the good work of his Australian teammate but just past the second hour a dramatic collision with the no86 Gulf Racing Porsche of Mike Wainwright eliminated both cars and brought out the first Full Course Yellow of the race.
This handed the lead to the no2 Porsche of Neel Jani. The Swiss driver had taken over from Romain Dumas who had moved up the order after the no8 Audi slowed and lost lap time with a mechanical issue and Benoit Treluyer spun off at Vale but managed to rejoin. The no8 Audi’s woes continued when Lucas di Grassi slowed and stopped, putting the Brazilian into retirement.
This put the no7 Audi and no2 Porsche in a head-to-head encounter that swung backwards and forwards for the rest of the race. The pressure was relieved for Marcel Fassler in the final ten minutes of the race when Jani headed to the pits after the Porsche picked up a puncture. Fassler took the chequered flag to score a great win for Audi and the second time the three drivers have won the coveted Royal Automobile Clob Tourist Trophy.
The two Toyotas finshed the race in 4th and 5th with the no6 TS050 of Mike Conway, Stephane Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi took a podium finish on the debut of the new car, with the no5 Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Sebastian Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima taking the chequered flag 24 laps behind the winners after a puncture in the rear right tyre caused extensive damage to the rear of the car and putting the TS050 into the garage for the repairs. With both cars scoring points the 2014 World Champions now head the points table after the opening race.
It was all smiles at Ferrari with AF Corse scoring a 1-2 in the LMGTE Pro class and also taking the win in the LMGTE Am category.
Sam Bird and Davide Rigon took their debut WEC win for Ferrari, and for the new F488, from pole position, a win that was made even more sweet as it was Bird’s first race for the Italian manufacturer and the victory was at his home race at Silverstone.
The no51 Ferrari had to start at the back of the grid after not posting a qualifying time and then to compound the problem the car received a 3 minute stop and go penalty because of the engine change made necessary by the problem encountered in qualifying.
Despite this Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado drove an excellent race to finish on the second step of the podium. They finished 33 seconds ahead of the no95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 of Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Darren Turner.
The Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK finished 4th and 5th on their European race debut with the no.67 Ford GT leading home their teammates in the no. 66 car.
In the LMP1 Privateer class Rebellion Racing celebrated 1-2 in LMP1 Privateer class after both cars started from the back of the grid. The two cars finished 4th and 5th overall as the no.13 car of Alexandre Imperatori and Dominik Kraihamer and Matteo Tuscher took maximum points.
The battle in LMP2 was fierce and very dramatic with the no43 RGR Sport by Morand taking the victory on the Mexican team’s WEC debut. Ricardo Gonzalez, Bruno Senna and Filipe Albuquerque stood on the top step of the podium after a hard fought battle that saw the no26 G-Drive Racing Oreca-Nissan and the no31 ESM Ligier amongst others challenging for the win.
The LMGTE Am class was not to be outdone by the other categories and provided 360 minutes of fast paced action, with the no83 AF Corse Ferrari F458 of Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas eventually getting the upperhand and finishing a lap ahead of the no98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage and the no50 Larbre Competition Corvette.
The FIA World Endurance Championship now heads to Belgium for round 2 at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday 7 May for the traditional dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.